How does water become lead-contaminated?

There are two main places where lead can get into your water: the water source or, more commonly, lead-based pipes. The water source gets contaminated in industrial cities and towns. Sometimes, these cities’ water gets contaminated with industrially used lead dust or slag pollution. Let’s not forget the vehicle traffic from our past. Lead in the fuel is no longer legal, however, the lead that polluted our environment when that kind of fuel was still in use, takes about 100 years before it’s no longer harmful.

The second pathway, lead-based pipes, has not been installed as water supply pipes Since 1970, but because of the astronomical cost of replacing them, many companies across the United Kingdom still use them. Over time, old lead pipes become corroded on the inside of the pipe rust begins to form, breaking off flakes of lead into a water system coming through your faucet. Lead is a soft metal, which, exposed to higher temperatures, can also melt off the pipes and into the water. Lead is harmful for human consumption, hence the UK introduced the lead pipe repalcement programme, which allows you to claim a government grant for the sole purpose of replacing the old pipes.


 How can I test for lead in my water?

Water companies do not recognise any at-home lead in water testing kits as sufficiently accurate. However, most water suppliers will offer a free of charge test kit, which will allow you to send your sample for expert analysis. The best time to test your water is early morning. The water contamination is easier detected in the samples of water that got to stand overnight in your pipes.


 What can I do if I have Lead-contaminated water?

Lead can’t be absorbed into the blood through the skin. In most cases, it will not cause any skin reactions or get into your bloodstream through showering or bathing. However, it would be best to avoid drinking contaminated water or rinse your mouth with it after brushing your teeth. Children should be closely supervised while bathing in such water. Ingestion of lead can cause changes in their brain functions and behaviour.

If the water coming from your pipes has less than 150 parts per billion of lead, you can use a faucet filter specifically designed to remove heavy metals out of your water before consumption. These are certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Remember, not all faucet filters remove lead, so it’s essential to make sure the one you purchase does, if you’re concerned about lead-contaminated water.


How lead affects workers in British Offices:

1- Digestive system:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite

2- Body 

  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Eczema

3- During Pregnancy:

  • Spontaneous miscarriage
  • Premature and delayed birth
  • Damage to baby’s organs and congenital disability


4- After Pregnancy:

  • Increased risk of your child having learning or behavioural problems.

Lead is a toxic metal used for many years and products found in and around homes and other buildings. Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects, including behavioural problems and learning disabilities, high blood pressure, kidney problems, and other major health issues.

Although everyone is at risk of exposure to lead, children six years old and under are at most risk, because their brains are still developing. Lead was often used in household plumbing materials or in water service lines to bring water from the main to a home or a factory. A prohibition of the use of lead in plumbing materials has been in effect since 1970. The lead ban states that only lead-free pipe elements may be used in the installation or repair of public water systems or any plumbing in a residential or non-residential facility that provides water for daily human consumption, which is connected to a public water system.

Although most water systems do test for lead as a regular part of their monitoring programs, the tests give the system a clear picture of the problem. Buildings built before 1970 used lead pipes and fixtures. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures which can leach significant amounts of lead into the water. The amount of lead in drinking water also depends on the type and amount of other pollutants and minerals in the pipes. Certain minerals and metals have an ability to create chemical bonds with lead and therefore remove it from the water before it reaches the tap.